Barry Rubin is a first-rate writer, scholar, and person, but no one would ever mistake him for Mario Andretti. He’s the kind of guy you might want with you as a partner on Jeopardy, but maybe not if you’re trying to find your way out of the Istanbul bazaar.
This is all by way of saying we got lost yesterday on our way driving [REDACTED] of Tel Aviv to an appointment at the Meir Amit Intelligence & Terrorism Center (ITC) at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (HCC). Barry took a couple of wrong turns and we ended up at the gate of the new headquarters of the [REDACTED] agency — an organization that has been written about frequently in novels.
Naturally they were surprised to see us. A young man with an M4 stepped out of a car and asked to see our IDs. He stared at our U.S. passports with some amusement as Barry explained at length (possibly more than was necessary) in Hebrew who we were. Then the young man sent us on our way with the proper directions.
A few minutes later we wound up rather miraculously at our destination where we were met by Dr. Yoram Kahati, deputy director & senior analyst of the aforementioned center. It was worth the wait — and the confusion.
The Meir Amit Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center is actually a tiny museum on a military base. consisting of blood-curdling displays of the history and activities of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, etc, a kind of Madame Tussaud’s of terror organizations. (Note to B. Obama: Al Qaeda existed before bin Laden and did not vanish at his death,)
The Center has a website with much of the same information as the small museum, which I recommend. Among their most important holdings are documents taken from the PLO that include direct signed orders from Yasser Arafat, controlling virtually everything and demonstrating he was indeed a master terrorist in charge of all aspects of his organization through his checkbook,
John Kerry might want to peruse some of these documents as he launches the next round of negotiations. Money’s tight these days and we’ve already blown off stunning amounts of cash on these characters for no discernible benefit. Why should it be any different this time?
Ah, but not to worry. I read in Haaretz this morning that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has appointed an academic (Rami Hamdallah) to be the new Palestinian Authority prime minister. What a relief. Corruption will no doubt be a thing of the past and we will move swiftly to peace.
I am writing this in Jerusalem, the next stop on our itinerary, where we toured the Old City today. The excavations are much more extensive than when I was last here twenty years ago and are quite extraordinary, particularly a subterranean tour you can take under the length of the Western Wall. The Israelis take archaeology seriously, not only for its own sake but also for obvious reasons of patrimony.
Thanks to all the commenters who have written the kind notes about my travels.
Click here to visit Roger’s 2013 Recommended Reading List at the PJ Book Club.